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“They don’t want to come back”: The Last of Us Creator Was Afraid Fans Might Not Return to Watch Series Before Making One Major Change


HBO’s The Last of Us premiered recently with massive reception across the world. The series was loved by gamers and series watchers around the world as Craig Mazin became a household name after Chernobyl.

The first episode was quite lengthy in comparison to other HBO shows as it clocked at around 85 minutes (or 1 hour 25 minutes). In the official podcast, creator Craig Mazin revealed that the pilot episode was not supposed to be this long. Claiming that a tight grip on the audience was necessary, the creator combined two episodes into one single premiere episode that blew the whole world away.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in HBO's The Last of Us.
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in HBO’s The Last of Us.

The Last of Us Combined Two Episodes Into One

*Major Spoilers For The Last of Us Episode One* (Humans beware!)

With the opening of Gustavo Santoalla, gamers around the world were immediately hooked on the series. Not all people would have been impressed since many are not privy to this masterpiece and only expected a worthwhile series.

According to the creator Craig Mazin, the official podcast of the series addressed the unnatural runtime of the premiere episode. Mazin, known for his previous work on HBO’s series Chernobyl, the first episode was actually two parts but they combined it into one.

A still from The Last of Us (2023-).
A still from The Last of Us (2023-).

Also read: “I was genuinely, really scared”: The Last of Us Star Nico Parker Reveals Experience of Working With Pedro Pascal as On-Screen Father

Citing the reason that the audiences must feel hooked to the series, here’s what the writer of the story Neil Druckmann had to say.

“Episode 1 used to be Episode 1 and Episode 2. It used to just end on the ’20 Years Later’ and seeing the kid and seeing Joel throw the kid in the fire, and that was it,”

Craig Mazin further continued that two child deaths were simply not enough to get the audience’s feedback. He further continued that the introduction of Bella Ramsey’s Ellie was of paramount importance in the first episode itself since the series revolved around her and Pedro Pascal’s Joel.

“The whole story of The Last of Us is about Joel and Ellie. If we only get a little glimpse of her at the end of Episode 1 — we don’t bring them together, and we don’t understand their journey — and it just ends with a kid dying and then another kid dying, and then credits, people may just not want to come back.

He reiterated that the show was beloved by the people (and gamers of course) but most importantly by the people at HBO.

“It was important for [HBO] because they loved the show, and they were like, ‘It would hurt all of us in our hearts if they don’t want to come back.'” 

Neil Druckmann is the co-president of Naughty Dog Studios (the creators of The Last of Us game) and is the original writer of the game and the series. Druckmann gave hopes for the future when the first episode ended on a calm cliffhanger since the people didn’t really know who Ellie is…yet.

Suggested: HBO Forbade Pedro Pascal from Playing The Last of Us: “‘Don’t play the game’…. I ignored it”

The Last of Us Cliffhanger Addressed by Neil Druckmann

The first episode ended with a similar visual to The Last of Us game.
The first episode ended with a similar visual to The Last of Us game.

Related: ‘Never got why people doubted this show’: HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ Debuts With Rare 100% Rotten Tomatoes Rating

The last shot of episode one showcases Bella Ramsey’s Ellie looking out the window. Neil Druckmann addressed the calm-esque cliffhanger that would have left the audiences hooked for knowing more about the mysterious girl who doesn’t seem to get infected.

“we haven’t established why we should care about this kid. We care about this kid because we know where this journey is going and how important this kid is,” Druckmann explained. “I remember when I worked on the game, this was always a test for people. I’d be like, ‘What’s the inciting incident?’ [They would say], ‘When [Joel’s daughter] Sarah dies, obviously.’ I’d be like, ‘Nope. It’s when Joel runs into Ellie. That’s the thing that changes his life.'”

The Last of Us premiered to a strong 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Pedro Pascal also boasted that he has never starred in a show that goes lower than 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. The first episode premiered on 15th January and will release episodes weekly (like HBO regularly does). The upcoming episode of The Last of Us is set for a release date of 22nd January 2023 and will be available to stream on HBO Max.


Written by Visarg Acharya

Visarg Acharya joined FandomWire in 2022 as a Content Writer. Along with a penchant for writing, Visarg claims that words are the only true language made for him. Currently pursuing his B.Sc in Physics, the combination of Physics and Marvel make up for an interesting talk. Visarg Acharya has authored over 500 articles and reads books in his spare time along with an occasional series to accompany him.